Stand-up storyteller Thomas tells his own story, which is highly sweetened and seldom tart. Thomas's twin thrusts are a straightforward life entwined with stories from his nightclub and stage act. Since Thomas is a zillionaire as a result of his talents, readers who have never seen his stage act will have to take its comedic zing on faith. The stories themselves, as shortened here for retelling, are rarely knockouts and clearly need Thomas's gift for dialects to be effective. This, along with his modestly self-inflating comments about doing his act at the White House at the requests of every President since WW II except Nixon, tends to weaken his bio's effectiveness. One does get a glittery lift when he faces audiences at Chicago's 5100 Club, New York's La Martinique, or London's Palladium and delivers a master hook into the audiences' jugulars with his first joke and a spirited ""something"" wells up within him, overcoming all fear of failure. We follow his rise from a deprived childhood in Toledo and Detroit through his first emcee labors in the clubs, successes as a character actor on Chicago radio shows, and early breakthrough when his act is seen by Abe Lastfogel, top honcho at the William Morris Agency. Thomas ascribes this success to Ms prayers to St. Jude, patron of hopeless cases, to whom he promised a shrine if the saint came through for him. When he found that Chicago already had a shrine to St. Jude, Thomas, a Catholic, decided to build a children's research hospital and after a ten-year campaign saw it raised. His most interesting passages are about his TV show Make Room for Daddy and how he and his director Sheldon Leonard used the show to spin off many new sitcoms that they owned. Stories about daughter Marlo have none of the waspish horror detailed by Desmond Atholl and Michael Cherkinian's That Girl and Phil (p. 1360), a much more irresistible book about the Thomases. Heartwarming showmanship that will put off some while melting nostalgia-minded sitcom viewers.